Taylor Castro can’t help but take in everything that’s happening in the country. As the world shifted from a global pandemic, and America is in the midst of nationwide protests, it’s been difficult to fathom everything going on, says Castro, now back home in Florida. “It’s definitely been an emotional time,” says that singer, songwriter and actress. “I’ve been trying to write songs about that too, and still creating the songs that were already in the works. I’m trying to find the ones that were already made that kind of relate to what’s going on and maybe share them earlier.”
Working through all her words, and stories, she’s busy working on her follow up to her 2018 debut PURE. GIRL, AFRAID is a more filtered reflection of the 20-year who has now taken the helm of her art, digging deeper into the new work, and writing all the songs. “I’m in the process of putting in final lyrics,” says Castro. “I’ll write the first verse and then the chorus, and then I have to come back after some time and revisit it, and think about what I want to say next. The majority of my songs are like that, so I’m revisiting those and then figuring out how to tell the story.”
Piece by piece, GIRL, AFRAID is unraveling some of the deepest, darkest emotions for Castro, who finds herself utilizing allegories to get each story across, building on something or taking a complete spin. Castro’s most vulnerable track yet, the moodier and soulful “Girl, Afraid,” extracts her own battle with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but universally, the artist says she wanted the song to address mental health, which is depicted in its raw video. “I think we all struggle with it in our own way,” says Castro. “For me, it’s OCD, but for someone else it still resonates. And even though all the songs are centered around that theme, it doesn’t mean that they’re all talking about it.
Even though there was more of a naivety on PURE, produced by Willy Perez-Feria (Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez) Kyng David (Baha Men) with composer Rudy Pérez (Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera), both albums were intentional, says Castro, and there’s a definite connection between the two. “They are juxtaposed so much, and I agree with everything I said on PURE, but there was one thing I was leaving out and it’s that, at all times, I am utterly and constantly terrified out of my mind. I think in the first one [PURE], I did try to comfort people, but I didn’t know how.”
On GIRL, AFRAID, Castro is finally saying what she has always wanted to hear someone say to her: it’s OK if you don’t feel not okay. “It’s okay if you’re afraid,” says Castro. “It’s okay if you need a minute to sit down, because I just got so sick of not hearing people say that to me, so I just decided to put that in all of them [songs] and have that be a driving force.”
Diving deeper into second single, “Abyss” dissects a close friendship, and its waves of forgiveness, regret, and trying to see the other’s person’s point of view. Originally written in 2018, the more slow brewing pop of “Abyss” uncovers their relationship breakdown and eventual recovery through self realization.
“I’m such a sensitive friend, because I had a long period of time where I literally had no friends and was at lunch alone at school,” says Castro of her high school experience. “I was always dreaming about having a friend, and I finally made a friend, and he’s amazing. He’s such an incredible friend, but every time that he canceled on me, I became devastated, so I ended up writing about him and the fact that it was so difficult to understand where he was coming from and how to decipher him. It actually made us closer at the end of the day.”
Right now, Castro says she’s writing non-stop for GIRL, AFRAID. Solely her creative vision, this creative turn is something she finds freeing, yet a little daunting. “At the end of the day, it’s really fulfilling to see the songs all come together, and hear your own voice, and be like, ‘wow, I wrote all of these,’” says Castro.
“I’ve been learning different tactics to good song writing, because I write all sorts of different forms—everything from poetry to essays to scripts—and all of those have their own specific way of how they should be told, while in songwriting you’re coming from a different perspective all together of first hearing it,” she says. “It’s just discovering little things and how to say something that’s effective, but also incorporating my personal style of being poetic at the same time, and then putting in those little intricacies. When people go back and read them, maybe they’ll find something new that they didn’t know was there before.”
Apart from GIRL, AFRAID, acting is the other half of Castro’s world, from her debut Assumed Killer at the age of 12, Castro has also starred in several films, including 2019’s Dream Killer. She loves acting but at the moment she’s simply riding the wave of music she’s creating.
“There’s so much more momentum with the music right now, and it’s all in my control,” says Castro. “Whereas, in acting it’s in the control of other people. Right now I’m doing a lot of music because that’s what I’m able to do and I’m so grateful for that. At the same time, I’m looking always looking for a good role.”